In My Kitchen – February 2015

Emergency Fund Raiser for Kim and Russ Bultman.

The devastating aftermath of the electrical fire which razed the Bultmans’ home to the ground.

I would like to start this post saying how grateful I am to have a kitchen from which to show you my lovely bowls on the window ledge, my favourite pots and pans, my old china, my best knife, my latest foodie discoveries and share with you the joy of my sourdough starter, Twinkle. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have any of it. To lose not only the things in my kitchen but everything in my home. To literally only have the clothes that I am standing in. Take a minute and imagine not having your photos, your child’s first shoes, your books, possessions that have been handed down through the family…This happened to fellow blogger, Kim Bultman (of the blog, A Little Lunch) whom I “met” through Celia’s IMK series. She and her husband, Russ lost everything on the day of their wedding anniversary, in November as a result of a devastatingly fast electrical fire which swept through their lakeside home in Oklahoma and razed it to the ground in a matter of an hour. Luckily they are both fine and have been incredibly positive about the whole thing. Their daughter Pamela set up a fund raising site and in an absolute testament to Kim’s selfless nature, she asked her daughter to put off publicising it until after Christmas so as not to affect anyone’s enjoyment of the festive season. They are insured but as you can imagine, the insurance does not cover everything. One of the things that Kim would like to buy with any money raised, is a new cooker/stove. Please do consider donating even a small amount to help Kim and Russ. There are only 20 days left and not even half their goal of $5,000 has been reached. Imagine yourself in their situation and show them some love. This is the link to where the smallest of Paypal donations will make a difference –  Kim & Russ Bultman Fundraiser

In My Kitchen – Elaine (of the blog, foodbod) and I met up in Shepherd’s Bush the other Saturday, as it is a Middle Eastern treasure trove of food shopping and eating. Elaine wrote a fabulous post all about it, which many of you will have read, so I won’t detail it here – take a look at her post if you missed it – it was such a lovely day out with fabulous food and wonderful people!  I did come back with a few goodies!

In my kitchen there are the most fragrant of dried rose petals. The man at the check out asked me what I intended to do with them and, as I mumbled something about harissa, (how could I say they were for pretty pictures?!) he told me that his wife makes something, “even better than what you eat in a 5 star hotel – a little thick yoghurt, a little honey, a few almonds and a few of these petals.” Raising his hand and kissing the tips of his fingertips he proclaimed, “Delicious!” It is.

I also picked up a bottle of a Palestinian first, cold pressed, extra virgin, olive oil by a Fair Trade company called  Zaytoun.  I was touched to think that trees were as old as friendships and a lifeline for the children and was immeasurably moved to read that …”Beyond conflict and upheaval, runs the thread of a vibrant culture and we proudly share its gifts…”

In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableA friend of mine since Jake’s prep school days has finally started a blog called Happy Street London. Anita has a very popular Instagram feed which led her to blogging. She is one of the most nurturing and caring people I know and her blog is just another way for her to reach more people and share the love. She recently wrote a post about a quinoa salad that just looked and sounded so delicious that when I saw a box of this Black Quinoa, I had to pop it in my basket!

I was just about to walk over to the cashier when I realised that there was a butchery counter in the shop. I stopped to take a look and saw piles of merguez – the North African spiced sausages. I asked if they were made in-house and was told that yes, they were made fresh each day! Bingo! I bought a few of each flavour – Chicken, Spicy and Original. They are wonderful on the barbecue but also fabulous in a Shakshuka which is just what I made the next day for brunch.

We went on to a shop called Nut Case which Elaine had already scouted out – it was filled with lots nut based delicacies including these gorgeous pastries – Ma’amoul are filled with dates and these pistachio ones were not too sweet at all.

In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableWe rounded off the shopping with a wonderful mezze lunch and all I can say is that I plan on visiting again when I run out of tahini because, as you can see, there is no shortage of it on the Uxbridge Road!

I was asked to review a new cookbook called FIVE by Rachel de Thample and sent a veg box from Able and Cole to come up with a FIVE inspired recipe. The book is just fabulous – there’s not a thing that I wouldn’t make from it and have already ear marked lots of recipes. For my review post, I made a Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom and Chestnut Tart. I have a copy of the book to give away and will post this week with all the details and a new recipe too.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableMy Sutton Community Farm veg boxes have been great this month. I’ve had acorn squash as well as celeriac which we have had as Remoulade as well as roasted under fish.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableThere has been sweet, crisp purple kohlrabi which I love, cut into batons and served as a healthy vehicle for houmous or to dip into a little EVOO, balsamic vinegar and sea salt.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableThere have also been rainbow carrots which have an incredibly intense flavour when roasted. Here they surrounded a chicken on a bed of thyme.

From the leftovers of the roast chicken, I made a delicious pot pie, inspired by one of Anita’s posts on Happy Street London.

I was invited to coffee at a friend’s house and offered to bake something. I had seen a recipe for chocolate chip cookie and brownie tarts. Of course, I left it until the last minute to bake them the night before. They were an absolute disaster – the cookie dough was too greasy and filled up the mini tart tins too much. Then when they baked  they were a hot, crumbly mess with no hope in million years of coming out of the tins intact. I tried to make a few in shallow patty pans but again the cookie dough proved to be a problem. By this time, it was far too late to bake anything else so I ended up rather sheepishly buying a couple of toffee muffins from Marks & Spencer as well as taking over a loaf of Twinkle sourdough which I had intended to anyway. Bah!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to her blog name so click and take a little tour!

Please remember to donate a little something to Kim and Russ’s emergency fund raiser if you can – if you haven’t already clicked, this is the link –  Kim & Russ Bultman Fundraiser

Have a wonderful February, everyone!

Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart

Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart | Selma's TableRachel de Thample is a woman after my own heart. A food writer, forager and advocate for seasonal and local produce, she has worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Peter Gordon and Hester Blumenthal. She was  Commissioning Editor for Waitrose Food Illustrated, contributed to two Borough Market cookbooks and wrote a fabulous book called Less Meat, More Veg a few years ago. Did I mention that she is also a fellow South Londoner? Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart | Selma's TableRachel is the Food Editor for one of the pioneers of the UK organic veg box schemes, Abel & Cole. She writes the most delicious, weekly seasonal recipes for them and also meets with food buyers to look at the ethical aspects of sourcing food.  Her second book, called FIVE has just been published. It is full of varied, accessible and delicious recipes that will have you packing away fruits and vegetables without any effort at all. There is a very useful double page spread listing fruits and vegetables and their portion sizes and the recipes clearly state how many portions are in each recipe. And the recipes! There isn’t a single one which I wouldn’t make – from creative breakfast truffles and clever muffins to galettes, latkes, stunning salads, hearty soups, curries, pastries, cakes, puddings, sorbets…mouthwatering and while heavy on the fruit and vegetables, there are recipes which include fish and meat. Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart | Selma's TableI have a copy of FIVE to give away to a lucky reader which I will tell you about in another post but in the meantime just get your tastebuds going with some of these recipe titles – Mexican Roast Pumpkin Soup with Lime; Lemony Scrambled Eggs with Indian Spiced Spinach and Mushrooms; Sassy Cherry and Watercress Salad with Crushed Pistachios; Athenian Rissoles with Pavlos’ Sauce; Summer Veg Patch Gumbo with Chorizo and Crab; Honeyed Aubergine, Feta and Walnut Borek; Honey Blossom Peaches; Mulled Figs with Mascarpone…doesn’t it all sound delicious? Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom & Chestnut Tart | Selma's TableIn the meantime, inspired by the premise of the book and my complimentary Able and Cole veg box as well as my Sutton Community Farm veg box, I came up with a recipe which I hope Ms De Thample would approve of!

It is full of seasonal ingredients like ruby chard, mushrooms, leeks  and one of my favourite winter ingredients – chestnuts; gently sautéed together with celery, garlic and thyme and a little lemon to sharpen the flavours, spread onto flakey puff pastry and topped with Barber’s delicious cheddar cheese.

My recipe has been featured over on the Happy Foodie website along with four other bloggers – take a look at what they have to say and what they made here – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/number-five-challenge

Ruby Chard, Mushroom & Chestnut Tart

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • Bunch of ruby chard or swiss chard or spinach (approximately 250g)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 punnet shitake mushrooms
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 75g vacuum packed cooked chestnuts
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder ilke Essentials or Marigold
  • 1 good handful of grated Barbers Vintage Reserve Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 x 320 g sheet of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry
  • 2 eggs beaten with a tablespoon of milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Fill the sink with cold water and swish the chard around in it to loosen any soil. Leave the chard in the water to let any grit settle on the bottom of the sink. Carefully lift the chard out of the water, without disturbing the sediment on the bottom of the sink and gently shake off the excess water. Trim off the ends and cut out the stalks. Slice the stalks, on the diagonal into 3 cm pieces. Slice the leaves into wide ribbons. Keep them separate.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Dice the onions and slice the mushrooms and add these to the hot oil. Sprinkle with a little salt, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon then stir and cook until the onions are soft, floppy and golden and the mushrooms have caramelised. You may need to add a little more oil if the mushrooms soak it all up.
  3. While this is going on, finely dice the celery and and slice the leeks into 1 cm rings; coarsely chop the chestnuts – add to the pan with the chard stems and stir. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan along with the chard and thyme leaves. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes or until the chard has wilted.
  5. Sprinkle over the stock powder and add a splash of water – just enough to deglaze any caramelisation on the bottom of the pan and get everything nice and juicy but not wet! Turn the heat right down and let this simmer for a minute or two. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  7. Unroll the pastry and score a 2 cm border around the perimeter. Transfer onto a parchment lined baking sheet/tray.
  8. Place the cooled chard mixture within the border and scatter over the grated cheddar cheese.
  9. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten eggs and then gently drizzle the remainder of the egg mixture over the tart.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool a little before serving.

Eat warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a light main course with a salad and some cold cuts for the determined carnivores. Or slice into 12 and serve  as part of a mezze for 6.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableIt’s Part 2 of the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Block Party Celebrations which I am thrilled to be co-hosting with the talented Nancy of Feasting with Friends. If you are a long time reader, you will know that the lovely Angie of The Novice Gardener hosts a virtual party every Friday where bloggers swap recipes and stories. It’s been a whole year since Angie grew the amazing community that is Fiesta Friday so it was only fitting to celebrate with a 2 week long party!  Last week was all about cocktails, canapés and appetisers – and there certainly was no dearth of creative and delicious recipes made specially to celebrate Angie’s fabulous party by the appreciative Fiesta Friday crowd. In fact the submissions were just so fabulous that Angie is going to write a post specifically to highlight the best ones.

This week, Fiesta Friday is about special occasion main courses and desserts and I can’t wait to see what everyone brings to the party. You are most welcome if this is your first time visiting  Fiesta Friday – here are a few guidelines to get you started. To join the party, all you have to do is click on the purple “Fiesta Friday” badge just before the printable recipe, below. Please don’t be shy and drop and dash – we would love to get you know you, so mix and mingle by visiting the other blogs and leaving some likes and comments!

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableTo mark this special event, this week I wanted to make something that would look elegant, taste spectacular but also not be too heavy. After cocktails, canapés, appetisers and a main course there may not be much room for a heavy dessert. And, not that I am greedy or anything, but I will want a few slivers of cheese to round off this special meal! So the ingredients had to be light but luxurious and to fit in with busy lifestyles, the dessert should be able to be made a day earlier. Pears have been calling my name for a few months now – I have a real thing for them in the winter and I love poached pears. So I decided to poach the in a orange and lemon juice mixture, warmed up by bay leaves, cardamoms and the haunting flavour of saffron. A little honey took the edge off the sauce. The mascarpone tastes just like vanilla ice-cream when a little vanilla paste is beaten into it, and the crunchy pistachio nuts add a much need crunchy texture to each blissful mouthful.

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's TableThese Poached Pears with Saffron Mascarpone are an elegant sweet course that can be served warm or cold depending on the weather and your time constraints. Either way, they can be prepared the day before and plated just before serving. Gently heat through the pears in the poaching syrup if you are serving this warm and then plate them up. To make this an even more healthy option, substitute greek yoghurt for the mascarpone. If you don’t want to fan slice the pears, then you could just cut the in quarters too. They are very easy to make and to eat! Angie has opened the party so let’s the festivities begin!

Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone | Selma's Table

Please click on the Fiesta Friday badge below, to either take a look at all the other submissions or to enter your specially created main course or dessert recipe post to the party.

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Poached Saffron and Citrus Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x oranges
  • 4 x lemons
  • 400 ml sweet dessert wine
  • 3 bruised cardamom pods –
  • 4 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 4 ripe Conference pears
  • 200 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or the seeds from one pod
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pistachio nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Juice the oranges and lemons – the juices should come to about 700ml and pour into a large shallow pan together with the sweet wine, cardamom, bay leaves and the saffron. Heat gently for 20 minutes or so – don’t let it boil as the froth spoils the appearance of the sauce. Stir in the honey and taste – the honey should soften the sharp citrus notes. Let this heat for another 10 minutes or until the mixture is nice and syrupy but not too thick.
  2. In the mean time, peel the pears and slice in half. Remove the cores with a teaspoon. Lay each half, face down and slice 4 or 5 times without going all the way to the top.
  3. Beat the mascarpone with the vanilla paste until it is smooth and set aside.
  4. Add the pears to the pan and poach for 5-10 minutes; spooning the syrup over them from time to time. The poaching time will depend on how ripe the pears are.
  5. Remove the pears once they are soft and set aside.
  6. The poaching liquid should be thick and syrupy. If it’s not, keep heating it until it reduces but don’t let the liquid boil. Fish out the bay leaves and the cardamom pods.
  7. Spoon some of the sauce onto 4 plates, Top with a good spoonful of the vanilla mascarpone. Drape two pear halves on top of the vanilla mascarpone on each plate and scatter over the chopped pistachios.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

When you see the timeline on this recipe, you are going to laugh and say who has 3 days to make a loaf of bread?! The truth is that you barely spend any time on it yourself – the wild yeast is doing all the work for you. As I mentioned in my post on Fruited Sourdough, it’s all about deciding when you want to bake and working backwards from there. I start the process on a Friday afternoon to bake on Sunday morning. The long, slow cold proofing allows the flavours to mature and take on even more of that distinctive sour, sourdough taste.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI bake my bread in an lidded enamel roasting dish. Baking it like this, creates steam so that the crust doesn’t become so hard that the loaf cannot expand and rise in the heat. This bit is referred to as oven spring. Slashing the dough helps with  creating a good oven spring too.  If you don’t have a lidded pot then, bake on a sheet/pizza stone but pop a small tin of ice cubes or water into the oven to create that steam. The lid is removed halfway through baking and I am always childishly surprised and in wonder at how much the loaf has grown and split open in that time.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI don’t know about you but I really struggle with counter space – I just seem to have so much out on it but that’s just the way I am. If I put things in a cupboard, they tend to shuffle off to the back and lie forgotten. So, when it comes to stretching and shaping dough, rather than clear away appliances and bottles of oil, I use a large stainless steel tray – it’s portable and so easy to clean. As an added bonus, the dusting flour/semolina etc is contained and doesn’t get everywhere! Stainless steel is really easy to work on too. Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableSo, if you have sourdough starter of your own or had some from Celia or me, give this method for Wholemeal Sourdough, a go!
Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableAlways start with a bubbly bowl of starter. Following Celia’s advice, I take out ¼ cup of Twinkle (my starter) from the fridge at 1pm, feed her ¼ cup each of bread flour and filtered water, followed by ½ cup of each at about 4pm. By 8pm, Twinkle is bubbly and ready to go!

Set a large mixing bowl on the scales and add the ingredients, re-setting to zero between ingredients. Wholemeal is a dry thirsty flour, so you may need more water. Start with 300g first and add more if you need it. Squelch them all together and leave to autolyse for half an hour. Then stretch and fold a half dozen times, cover and leave to prove on the worktop, overnight. The following morning, stretch and fold the dough again and this time place in the fridge to prove for 24 hours. On Day 3, shape the dough, let it have a final short proof on the worktop and bake.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

  • Servings: Makes a 500 g loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g of bubbly starter
  • 300 – 320 g of room temp or cool filtered water
  • 250 g of organic wholemeal bread flour
  • 250 g of organic strong white bread flour
  • 9 g of fine salt
  • olive oil
  • fine semolina or rye flour
  • poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Day 1 Evening

  1. Use a large mixing bowl and set it on the scales, re-setting to zero between additions.
  2. Tip in 150 g of bubbly starter.
  3. Then add 300g of the filtered water. (Start with the lesser amount first – you can always add a little more if the dough is too dry.)
  4. Measure in the bread flours.
  5. Add 9 g of fine sea salt.
  6. Squelch it all together with a clean hand until it is well mixed. This shouldn’t even take a minute. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry. Wholemeal is a thirsty flour! Scrape all the floury bits off your hand and back into the bowl. (I’ve been using latex disposable gloves – very little sticks to them.) Cover the bowl and set the timer for ½ an hour for the dough to autolyse.
  7. When the half hour is up, stretch and fold the dough, inside the bowl, 5 or 6 times. Clean the bowl  then smear some olive oil in it and place the dough inside, seam side down. Cover and leave out on the worktop, overnight.

Day 2 Morning

  1. In the morning, the dough will be bubbly and have doubled in volume at least.
  2. Dust the work surface (I use a large stainless steel tray) with fine semolina or rye flour (white tends to stick) and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. Repeat the stretch and fold a half dozen times. Place seam side down in a large oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge.

Day 3 Morning

  1. The next morning, the dough will have risen and is ready to bake. You could even leave it in the fridge for another day for the flavours to develop.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 240/250C – as high as it will go.
  3. Dust the work surface and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. There is no need to punch down – you want to keep as many of those bubbles in the dough as you can.
  4. Pull the outside thirds into the middle, then turn it over so that it is seam side down and shape it as you wish. Try and pull the outside of the dough as tightly as possible to get a good gluten coat which will hold it’s shape well.
  5. Oil some cling film and cover the dough on the worktop for about 45 minutes to an hour, for the final prove. The dough should warm up a little and also expand. If your kitchen is really warm, it may only take half an hour – so keep an eye on it, setting the timer as this is the only proofing that should NOT be over done.
  6. Then, after it has finished the final proofing, remove the cling film, and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds.
  7. Slash the top of the dough and place it in a lidded **enamel roaster/dutch oven. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Turn the heat down to 220C (fan assisted) and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 mins, remove the lid and carry on baking for another 20 mins. Check to see if the bread is done by tapping it on the underside – it should sound hollow. If you like a crispy crust, then place directly on the oven rack and bake for another 5 minutes. Otherwise, remove from the pot and cool on a wire rack.

**If you don’t have a lidded pot, you can, of course, bake the bread on a baking sheet/pizza stone. In that case, place a few ice cubes/water in a small tin and put this in the oven to create the steam that baking in a lidded pot does.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableIt’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since Angie dreamt up Fiesta Friday. I remember how she said that she wanted us all to mix and mingle with each other because it was a party. I must admit that I was sceptical – I had tried various linky parties which made me feel like a virtual wallflower – hardly anyone visited, and the few that did, never commented or liked what I shared. So, when Fiesta Friday started, I stood on the sidelines for a few weeks, popping by to see what was going on and couldn’t believe how fabulous Angie’s bash was. People were submitting gorgeous recipes and they were all mingling like mad! The comments were so supportive, encouraging  and some were very funny too. It quickly became apparent that some people were super bubbly and had to be kept away from the sweets – and I am not naming any names here! So, I really pushed the boat out and made a batch of Nutella Espresso Sticky Buns. Well, the WordPress app on my phone didn’t stop pinging all weekend – people were commenting, following my blog and generally doing exactly what should be happening at linky parties. I felt like the fabled swan when Angie featured my post the following week! So Angie, congratulations on such a successful event and a huge thank you for hosting a brilliant party and gathering these lovely bloggers to your fold.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThese Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts are something that I have been wanting to make for some time. I watched one of the contestants on Masterchef making something similar with roasted tomatoes and basil oil and the idea of an individual savoury cheesecake really made an impression on me. Also, I bought half a dozen cute little fluted tart tins from the dollar store in Winnipeg when I was there last and keep looking for an excuse to use them. I thought that walnuts would be a much better flavour match for blue cheese so dressed my tarts with the candied walnuts and the walnut dressing.

Making a “crust” with buttery bread crumbs couldn’t be easier and the cheesecake filling comes together so easily with a little whizz in the food processor.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThis recipe is worth it just for the candied walnuts alone – you will not be able to stop eating them so I suggest you make twice as many. Just sayin’.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThe tarts are gorgeous – the rich cheese filling with the crispy, crumbly breadcrumb crust, the peppery rocket leaves and the sharp nutty dressing topped off with the sweet and slightly spicy crunchy walnuts – perfect dinner party fodder if you ask me!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 1 which this special week is being co-hosted by my two of my favourite Canadian bloggers,  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board – the original two co-hosts for the first few Fiesta Fridays.

If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration! Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 1 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the Fiesta Friday guidelines and invitation post for helpful hints.

It’s been my great pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday several times and I am so honoured that Angie has asked me to co-host  the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 with  Nancy @ Feasting With Friends next week. The theme is mains and puddings/sweets next week, so best wear loose clothing! Jhuls, I will bring lots of camomile tea with me! I look forward to seeing what you lovely people bring this week and next. Happy Anniversary Fiesta Friday!

Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Inspired by MasterChef

INGREDIENTS

For the Candied Walnuts

  • 150 g of walnut halves or pieces
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 15 g butter
  • a few shakes of cayenne pepper

For the Walnut Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp/15 ml white wine/apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp French mustard
  • 2 Tbsp/30 ml walnut oil
  • 1 Tbsp/15 mi extra virgin olive oil

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  • 100 g white bread (trimmed of the crusts)
  • 50 g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g full fat cream cheese
  • 75 g blue cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp double cream/creme fraiche

To serve

  • Rocket leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Candied Walnuts

  1. Place all the ingredients into a nonstick pan and stir over a medium heat.
  2. Keep stirring until the sugar turns to caramel and starts to coat the nuts. This takes between 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t let the caramel burn – just keep stirring it.
  3. Once the caramel is a toffee brown, pour the mixture onto a silicone sheet or parchment paper – be careful as the caramel is very hot – and using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, separate the nuts making sure that there is caramel on each one.
  4. Let cool, then store, out of sight, in a lidded jar to avoid eating the whole lot.

For the Walnut Dressing

  1. Place the vinegar and sea salt in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt.
  2. Whisk in the mustard then slowly whisk in the oils. You can also just put the lot in a lidded container and shake hard but I like the rounded airy fullness that whisking gives to a dressing.
  3. Set aside.

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Butter/spray the bases and sides of 4 x 8cm/3in fluted, loose bottomed flan tins.
  2. Whizz the bread in a food processor to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and tip in the crumbs, stirring to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Divide into 4 then press the mixture on the base and up the sides of the prepared tins. Use the back of a teaspoon to even out the base.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10- 12 minutes or until the bases are golden but keep an eye on them as they can catch quite quickly.
  5. Beat the rest of the ingredients together and divide between the tins. I did this in the mini processor in which I whizzed the bread crumbs.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the tops are golden and just set – a little wobble in the middle is desired.
  7. Cool for a few minutes then remove carefully from the tins.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature on a few rocket leaves, drizzling the dressing around the plate and garnishing with the candied walnuts.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf

Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableYou can’t rush sourdough bread making. The physical time spent on making the bread is minimal however the proofing takes time; time to develop the wild yeast and those coveted bubbles, to develop the gluten strands  and  to develop that unique flavour. I like to think of it as nurturing. And it’s so inherently satisfying, almost on a primal level, to be able to produce the staff of life, using ancient methods – made with wild yeast, additive free ingredients and with a pedigree. My starter, Twinkle, comes from Celia’s starter, Priscilla, which is nearly 8 years old.  Since I got my starter from Celia of the fabulous blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, last month, I have been baking bread – getting to know and learning how to handle Twinkle just like a would a baby! So it’s all about setting out a time plan starting with when you want to bake or eat the bread and working back from that. I tend to start on a Saturday afternoon, to bake a basic sourdough loaf on the Sunday morning but this Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf takes a little longer because it goes in the fridge for the yeast and flavours to develop slowly and more fully.

Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableOver on Twitter, there is a small group of us who started baking our Pricilla originated sourdoughs at the same time. Led by Celia, we have the most hilarious, informative and inspiring conversations. This Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf was inspired by Annie’s efforts and has also led Celia to bake the most gorgeous looking fruit loaf too!  Other people dip in and out of our conversations, commenting, offering advice or asking questions. Oh, and it’s mostly on Australian time so when I’m getting up, they may or may not have had a glass or two!! Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

Start the Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf a couple of days before you want to bake. I started the process on Friday afternoon and baked the loaf on Sunday morning. The full, printable recipe with some links is below but in a nutshell, this is what I do. I start by feeding Twinkle to make a poolish. Then I add the rest of the ingredients to make the dough and squelch the lot together for a minute. After half an hour, I stretch and fold the dough a few times. This goes into a lightly oiled bowl and sits out on the counter to bulk prove overnight. The next morning, I incorporate the dried fruit using the stretch and fold method, place the dough back in the cleaned and oiled bowl and leave it in the fridge until the next morning. The photo below is what I woke up to! Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table At this point, I incorporate the cinnamon sugar and shape the loaf. This sits out on the counter to proof once more for 30-45 minutes, while the oven heats up and then goes into a lidded casserole dish, gets slashed and bakes for 20 minutes with the lid on. After another 30 minutes with the lid off, this is what it looks like…go on – you know you really want to give this a try! Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table If you’ve had starter from Celia or from me, give this Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf a go once you are comfortable with baking Celia’s Overnight Sourdough.

Some resources – Emilie of the Clever Carrot, who got her starter from Celia a year ago, has this brilliant beginners guide to sourdough on her blog. She has been baking the most gorgeous looking breads – bakery worthy!  The Weekend Bakery have a couple of great videos on how to fold and stretch dough and also how to shape the loaves. I have added the video links to the recipe below, in the appropriate places.

Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf

  • Servings: 1x approx 750 g loaf
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

For the sourdough poolish

Day 1At 1 pm –  Remove ¼ cup of starter from the fridge and feed her ¼ cup each of bread flour and filtered water, followed by ½ cup of each at about 4pm. By 8pm your poolish will bubbly and ready to incorporate into a dough.

For the fruit soak

Day 1At 8 pm – Soak 200 g dried fruit of your choice – my mix included cherries, cranberries, sultanas and raisins with 100 ml strong hot black tea and leave out overnight. Drain well before using.

For the Fruited Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf

  • 200 g bubbly sourdough poolish
  • 300 – 320g filtered water
  • 250g organic white bread flour
  • 250g organic wholemeal bread flour
  • 9g fine sea salt
  • fruit soak, well drained
  • 1 tsp cinnamon mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Day 1At about 8 pm – Pop a large mixing bowl on the scales and reset the scales to zero.
  2. Measure in 200g of the poolish and reset the scales to zero.
  3. Pour in 300g of filtered water and reset the scales to zero.
  4. Measure in the flours and the salt.
  5. With a clean hand, squelch everything together for about a minute or so. If it is really dry, add a little more water – wholemeal flour can be very thirsty. Scrape off all the bits on your fingers, into the bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and leave it to rest for ½ an hour. (The first time I made bread, I wanted to protect my manicure and popped on a disposable latex glove to squelch. Not much sticks to the latex so I have carried on using one every time I make a loaf.)
  6. If your bowl is large enough, you can “knead” in it. Otherwise, scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and spread it out a little. Start to stretch the dough (which will be sticky but just persist without adding any extra flour) by pulling it and folding it over on it self. Do this several times until the dough starts feeling a little more elastic. This is called the stretch and fold method.
  7. Clean your large bowl, and lightly oil it and place the dough inside. Cover it with cling film or a shower cap and leave it out overnight. This is called the bulk prove.
  8. Day 2 – The next morning, you will find the the bowl is pretty well full of bubbly dough. Scrape it out again on a lightly floured surface and gently pull and stretch it out into a rough rectangle. Spread with the well drained fruit soak. Fold the dough over it in thirds, (like an A4 letter), then do the same again. Gently stretch it out into a rectangle and repeat the folding once again, as best as possible.
  9. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with cling film and put the bowl in the fridge to prove. (Putting it in the fridge, slows down the rise you can leave it in the fridge for a couple of days if you need to.)
  10. Day 3 – The next morning, the dough will be doubled in size and full of bubbles; somewhat resembling an alien life form!
  11. Pre-heat your fan oven to as high as it will go.
  12. Gently scrape the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, and gently pull into a rectangular shape. Scatter over the cinnamon sugar and fold in thirds, stretch and fold into thirds again.
  13. Shaping the dough – Seam side down, drag and pull the dough towards you, cupping it with your hands and keeping the seam on the bottom, Make a quarter turn and repeat until you have a nice tight gluten coat on the top. I pulled mine into an oval shape as I was doing this. Cover with some oiled cling film and leave out to warm up and rise for 30-45 minutes.
  14. Line a lidded casserole dish with parchment paper and flour the paper. Transfer the dough into the dish and slash the top as you wish – I made 3 diagonal cuts to the top.
  15. Cover the dish and place in the oven. Turn down the heat to 220C fan and bake for 20 minutes.
  16. Remove the lid, turn down the heat to 190C and bake for 30 minutes. Check that the bread is cooked by tapping on the bottom to see if it sounds hollow. Otherwise, put it straight onto the oven rack and bake for 5 more minutes.
  17. I know it’s difficult, but let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into it!

You can of course bake this on a pizza stone or on a baking sheet. If you do, put a few ice cubes or some water into a muffin tin or small tin and place on the floor of the oven to generate steam.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits

Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's TableI was so thrilled when Elaine of foodbod asked me to write a post for her new series, “What would you feed me?” Elaine is the embodiment of healthy eating – she is vegetarian, sugar free, caffeine free and also avoids wheat but doesn’t miss out on any flavour with her punchy Middle East inspired spicing. I discovered her blog when someone re-blogged one of her earliest posts which was for a pavlova – the antithesis of how Elaine eats!  So I set my mind to thinking how I could produce a treat that was true to Elaine’s food ideals. Obviously, it had to have tahini in it – Elaine’s favourite food group!!  Ground almonds to substitute for flour and honey for sugar…I kept thinking about those lovely Chinese Almond Cookies that are made for Chinese New Year. I am rather partial to orange zest and cardamom in baked goods, so in they went too.. Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's TableThe Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits have Elaine’s name written all over them. Wheat free, refined sugar free but chock full of almonds and tahini of course! They are also dairy free and egg free, making them suitable for vegans.  While these do have honey in them they are not very sweet so they won’t kick your sweet cravings into high gear. The orange and cardamom flavours work beautifully with the nutty flavours of the tahini and almonds. The biscuits bake up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside – just begging to be dunked in a cuppa!  Judging by the response on Instagram, I think that they are a success! Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's Table If you want to know how to make these ridiculously easy Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits please go over to my guest post on Elaine’s blog, foodbod. The post is called, ‘What would you feed me…Selma’ – if you click on the link below, it will take you straight to it. While you are there, take a minute to browse through Elaine’s recipes – you will come away inspired!

https://foodbod.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/what-would-you-feed-me-selma/

 © Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Invitation to the First Fiesta Friday Anniversary

It’s been a year! A whole year of sharing recipes and stories and building up this amazing Fiesta Friday community. To celebrate, Angie is throwing a virtual block party for 2 weeks, each with a different theme. All the details are in her post and I am very excited to be co-hosting next week – please do join us if you can by sharing a recipe or visiting the “table” and hopefully discovering new recipes and blogs to follow. Huge thanks to Angie for hosting this fabulous event!

The Novice Gardener

first fiesta friday anniversary invitation

Just one more week and Fiesta Friday will celebrate its First Anniversary! Are you as excited as I am? Of course you are!

We’ve been brainstorming, my co-hosts and I, on how to properly celebrate this milestone. After many great ideas were thrown in, we’ve decided that our First Fiesta Friday Anniversary needs to be celebrated in a big way, by having a non-stop party that will span 2 weeks.

Let me explain. We’re throwing the biggest block party ever. A Fiesta Friday Block Party. A Fiesta Friday on steroids. Ain’t no party like it ‘coz a Fiesta Friday Block Party don’t stop! Not for 2 weeks! That means Fiesta Friday #52 and Fiesta Friday #53 will BOTH be the designated 1st Anniversary Fiesta Friday parties.

And since it’s a block party, everybody who is a friend of a friend of a friend is welcome. That means all of you…

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Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme | Selma's TableI have a real aversion to buying chicken breast meat. It’s easy to overcook, bland and expensive. I would much rather buy a whole chicken or those packs of legs and thighs and anyway, I don’t really like to cook in individual portions, and with chicken breast meat, it has to be individual portions, unless you are cutting it up for curries, skewers or goujons. What if someone is really hungry? It doesn’t sit comfortably with my ethos of passing round a generous platters of food for everyone to help themselves from.

A few years ago, I watched Donna Hay on television, cooking and baking hew way to exquisite looking food. I was mesmerised as much by the incredble view of the sea outside her kitchen window as by her effortless styling of the food on the plates.  She cooked some chicken breasts and halloumi together with a drizzle of honey and it stuck in my mind. Despite my reservations about breast meat, I’ve made this a few times with a few tweaks, here and there.

I’ve added shallots and garlic for a deeper flavour and included a dash of pomegranate molasses to balance the sweetness of the honey. You end up with the salty halloumi, the warmth of the thyme, the sweet honey and the sharp pomegranate molasses which are the perfect foil to the breast meat.

I’ve made this with both skin on and skinless chicken breasts and prefer it with the skin left on. It protects the meat from drying out and also adds a crispy note to the textures. The version below is skinless only because that is what I unearthed when rummaging in the freezer, wondering what to cook for dinner later!

It could not be simpler to throw together – all in the one dish that you can also bring to the table. It’s a brilliant mid week family supper, just make extra to make me feel better!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #51 which this week is being co-hosted by the lovely, bubbly Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and  supercook Juju @cookingwithauntjuju.

If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration! Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s   Fiesta Friday #51 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

Right, lets party!

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey & Thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by Donna Hay

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 x 1 inch slices of halloumi cheese
  • 2 x banana shallots or 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 10-15 stalks of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
  • Black pepper

To serve

  • salad leaves
  • steamed green vegetables like green beans or broccoli.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and lightly oil a baking dish
  2. Place the chicken breasts and the halloumi in an oven safe dish that will fit everything snugly.
  3. Scatter around the shallots and garlic.
  4. Mix the olive oil, honey and pomegranate molasses with most of the thyme leaves, in a small bowl and spoon it over the chicken, halloumi, shallots and garlic. Scatter over the remaining thyme and black pepper. You won’t need salt as halloumi is quite a salty cheese.
  5. Roast in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the halloumi is golden. Baste with the pan juices once or twice in that time.
  6. Serve on a handful of salad leaves using the pan juices as a salad dressing.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices | Selma's Table

After the excesses of festive season, January bears the brunt of cutting back whether it be shopping, alcohol and/or food. The feasting seems to start from the beginning of December so come January, we do crave simpler, lighter food. The trouble is that sometimes it can seem a little bland. These crunchy, pickled radish slices will perk up all sorts of things from salads to steamed vegetables, steamed fish to simply cooked meats. And of course they are superb with cheese and crackers, in sandwiches,  in burgers; anywhere you need a crunchy, spicy, floral, acidic hit of flavour.

They are ridiculously easy to make – combine the spices, slice the radishes and layer in a heatproof jar. Boil the brine to dissolve the sugar and salt and pour over the radishes. That’s it! You can eat them as soon as they have cooled or refrigerate them for later – they keep for a few weeks. I hope you find that they add a little pizzaz to some of your January meals!

I am so thrilled to be co-hosting The Novice Gardner’s Fiesta Friday with the incredibly talented Sue of Birgerbird. If you are not familiar with her work – please do take a look – her photography will blow you away and then when you see the gorgeous award winning food she cooks too – wow! She now sells her award winning pork pies so if you are lucky enough to be in the Santa Monica area, give her a yell! We are co-hosting Angie’s 50th Fiesta Friday and we can’t wait to see what you are bringing to the party!

Click on the Fiesta Friday badge below to join the party – you can submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s  FF#50 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to!

Speaking of features, there were some stunners last week! I still can’t get over Lily’s Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream and Naina’s Firecracker Shrimps look fantastic. And how about a Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail from Dini to kick things off with? Then for pudding we have Pecan-Bacon Squares A’ La Mode from Judi! Wowsers!!

If you are new to blogging, Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration!

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch of radishes

Brine

  • 200 ml white wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 200 ml water
  • 3Tbsp sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp salt

Spices

  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes depending on how spicy you like it
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp red peppercorns
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trim off the tops and tails of the radishes. then, using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice very finely into rounds.
  2. Mix the spices together and place half in the bottom of a heat proof jar.
  3. Fill the jar with the sliced radishes and top with the remaining spices.
  4. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour over the radishes and let this cool to room temperature before serving or storing in the fridge.

The radishes will last for a few weeks in the fridge.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original post.

In My Sourdough Kitchen – Jan 2015

In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all had a wonderful time over the festive season and have set some achievable intentions for the coming year. It’s always good to have goals, right? In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableI (together with several others) received THE most brilliant gift over the holidays – a sachet of dried sourdough starter from Celia. For those of you who don’t know, Celia is a prolific bread maker and has the most wonderful sourdough starter called Priscilla. As in Priscilla, Queen of the Refrigerator! When Celia offered to send me some, I was quite beside myself with excitement – I have always wanted to have a go making a starter but was put off by how long it took to get one going. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableIn anticipation, I pulled out my two bread baking  books to read up on the history, methods and recipes and before I knew it, an envelope covered in colourful Australian stamps landed on the doormat – I could not get to it fast enough! So holiday food aside, this is what has been going on in my kitchen.

Several types of bread making flours have been purchased. White bread flour, organic spelt flour, organic rye flour, organic white bread flour and organic wholemeal bread flour…

The flours have been decanted into large air tight jars which are awaiting the new chalkboard stickers. A few years ago, I had a kitchen with a terrible damp problem which rendered the cupboards useless. So I used to keep everything out on a large 4 tier steel rack. One day, I noticed a few tiny white specks on a box of cereal – when I took a closer look, I could see that EVERYTHING on the rack was covered in these tiny white bugs – I felt sick as I threw out a huge amount of food – really, waste makes me very upset. I washed and disinfected everything and all the while, I had the heebie-jeebies – honestly, it felt as if my hair was standing on end! I went straight for a shower after I finished. I also placed a large order for airtight bottles in various sizes so that I would never have to go through it again. Apparently, the bugs come into one’s home on the packaging from the shelves in the shops/storerooms/transport etc.

I’ve named my starter Twinkle as she’s just so shiny and bubbly and I love anything with a sparkle. Twinkle came to life much to the delight of Celia, who followed, encouraged and cooed via our Twitter conversations. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableThis was my first loaf with Twinkle *chest swells with pride* I have been using Celia’s method and half the recipe from her Overnight Sourdough Tutorial.

Then I tried a 50% spelt loaf and also a 50% wholemeal loaf. The spelt loaf was quite heavy but still really tasty. The wholemeal loaf was sensational!

There is always left over starter from all the feeding so I made sourdough pancakes. I added cinnamon to Celia’s recipe and also made a fresh blueberry compote to go with them.

While a lidded pot isn’t essential, it does give the loaf a great shape. I’ve been using my 26 cm oval Le Creuset but the high heat has been staining the enamel which I’m not particularly happy about, considering how much those babies cost. So I’ve bought a 30 cm Lidded Enamel Oval Roaster. It’s only just arrived so I haven’t had a chance to use it but I know that it is what Celia uses for her breads. It will stain from the heat but I’m not going to mind as it’s less than a tenth of the cost of my beloved Le Creuset!

I’ve dried some of the left over Twinkle and revived her to make sure she worked and she did. I shall be spreading the love and sending out sachets to a few of my friends as well as keeping some as a back up in case of a starter-disaster!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour! Have a wonderful January, everyone!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI’ve always been mad about Christmas even though as a child, it was not something we celebrated. My cousins, who are half German always did Christmas in a big way. My aunt used to bake up a storm, fiercely guarding her recipes – I most remember the almond star cookies with the cinnamon  meringue tops that she always made without fail. (Luckily, Ginger recently posted a traditional recipe for these so I can make them now!) And they always had a big, gaily decorated tree in their sitting room, which I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI begged and whined every year for a tree and one year, we finally got one BUT – it was unceremoniously parked outside the doors to the verandah at the rear of our house and we had no decorations – I improvised with colourful metallic sweetie wrappers which I twisted to look like bows and oh, how I loved that tree.  I sound so deprived but I wasn’t really. We were living in Nairobi, engaging mainly with our huge and extended Muslim family and it just wasn’t the done thing to celebrate Christmas – we had Eid, of course.

Needless to say, my first Christmas on my own included the largest tree we could get into the flat, strung with so many lights that we probably caused a dent in the national grid every time they were turned on. It was so laden with ornaments that the branches were bowing under their weight.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableSince then, I have refined my tree decorating and have strings and strings of soft white lights – no coloured lights and certainly no flashing in time to music – which are wired to the branches so that they sit perfectly without any visible wires. There is no tinsel, no garland just lots of pretty, sparkly red, silver and gold ornaments and baubles, which have been amassed (amassed, being the key word) over the years.

Jake used to have a little tree in his room, which I do understand may be thought of as a little excessive but I had lost time to make up for! This little tree had very colourful ornaments and baubles – a practice, I am so happy to hear, that has been taken up by a friend, for her twin boys. Anyway, the bottom line is that I am just crazy about Christmas as a tradition – the twinkly lights everywhere, the smell of pine needles, the lovely things in the shops, the carols, the festive food, meeting up with friends for a Christmas drink, the parties and the general feeling of good cheer – I just love it!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableAnd of course, I love the baking. This is one of the best recipes I have ever used for mince pie pastry. It’s short, rich and buttery with a wonderful flavour from the flecks of orange zest. It is not too sweet which balances with the sweet mincemeat. And it is ever so forgiving. The trimmings come together like playdoh and can be re-rolled a number of times. The dough doesn’t have to be kneaded – just patted into a disc, chilled and then rolled out. It keeps for days in the fridge too.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI always use shop bought mincemeat which I ramp up with port soaked dried cranberries and golden sultanas and orange zest. I usually grate an apple into the mixture before I fill the pies but this year I didn’t. Honestly, jazzing up shop bought mincemeat like this makes it taste absolutely wonderful and I never think to make my own from scratch.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Pastry before being gathered and chilled

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Most years, I make at least two batches of mince pies with this pastry, usually with a glass of port and Michael Bublé for company! For me, this is when I start to feel really festive.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

I am taking these to share with the wonderful bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #47. Today we are being co-hosted by two charming ladies – Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook Do take a moment to see what Angie, Indu and Jhuls have been up to!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Orange Mince Pie Pastry

  • Servings: enough for 24 mince pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Sainsbury’s Christmas Book by Joycelyn Dimbleby

INGREDIENTS

For the mincemeat

  • 200g of dried cranberries. dried cherries and golden sultanas
  • enough port to cover the dried fruit
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 500 g mincemeat

For the pastry

  • 500g plain/AP flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 375 g cold butter, cubed
  • finely grated rind and juice of one orange

To assemble

  • 1 x 8cm/3in round cutter
  • 1 x 5cm/2in round cutter
  • 3 Tbsp flour in a bowl
  •  2 Tbsp water in a small glass or bowl
  • 1 Tbsp milk in a small glass or bowl
  • icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Pastry

  1. Place the flour, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add the chilled butter cubes and process until the mixture looks like coarse damp sand. Scrape out into a bowl and  break up any large lumps of butter or compacted mix.
  3. Using a table knife, stir in the orange juice until the pastry just starts to come together. You will think that this amount of liquid can’t possibly be enough, but it is.
  4. Gently, pat into a disk, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins or overnight.

Mincemeat

  1. Soak the dried fruit and zest in the port overnight (do not refrigerate).
  2. Stir in the mincemeat and set aside until needed.

To assemble

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Butter/spray the tart tins.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Divide into two, one piece slightly larger than the other. Wrap the smaller one in the cling film and pop it back in the fridge.
  4. Cut the larger half of the disc in half again. I find it easier to roll out a smaller piece of dough. Lightly flour the worktop and the rolling pin. Roll out the pastry, which will be solid to begin with but soon softens up as the butter warms up, a little thicker than usual and stamp out 12 x  8cm/3in rounds. Dip the cutter into the flour from time to time. Re-roll the trimmings to achieve the 12 rounds. Line the tart tin and pop into the fridge to chill. Repeat with the other half of the pastry and refrigerate while you get the tops ready.
  5. Remove the second half of the pastry dough from the fridge. Cut in half and roll out. Stamp out 12 x 5cm/2in rounds, again re-rolling the trimmings to achieve 12 rounds for the tops. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  6. Optional – gather all the trimmings, re-roll and stamp out stars, christmas trees, hearts etc.
  7. Remove the tart tins from the fridge and fill with the mincemeat – do not overfill.
  8. Dipping a finger into the water, moisten one side of the rounds and place on top of the filled pies.  Press lightly to seal and make a small slit on top.
  9. Moisten one side of the star/heart/Christmas tree and place on top of each pie.
  10. Brush with a little milk and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. The pastry is beautifully crumbly so it is best to let the mince pies cool for 10 minutes before easing them out of the tins (you may need to use a table knife to do this) and letting them cool on a wire rack.
  12. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's TableEveryone needs a quick, easy to make canapé recipe, especially at this time of year. This Smoked Mackerel Pâté takes minutes to whizz up together and is endlessly versatile; it can be spread it on some thin oven toasted slices of baguette, topped it with grated cheese and grilled – super easy and really tasty too. Or, if you don’t want to be bothered with heating them up, you could just top the baguette toasts with the Mackerel Pâté, place half of a pitted black olive and a sprinkle of parsley on top and voila!

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's TableIf you are having a buffet style table of nibbles, you can also serve the pâté in a bowl, surrounded by slices of baguette. I’ve often served it as a casual starter when I’ve had friends round for supper during the week. Everyone gathers round the table with a drink, to chat and whet their appetites on this pâté while I get on with finishing off the main attraction.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's Table

My version includes a little heat from chilli flakes and a warm spicy note from dry roasted cumin seeds – both work so well with the smoky mackerel and the sharpness of the lemon. You can change the spicing to suit your palate, of course.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fillets (approximately 300 – 350g in total) of smoked and peppered mackerel with the skin removed
  • 1 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • zest and juice of a lemon (unwaxed) Use half the juice to start with and only add more after you have tasted the pâté, if it needs it.
  • 2 Tbsp half fat creme fraiche
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley

To Serve

  • Baguette cut into ½ cm slices and toasted on a tray in the oven
  • A little grated cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Break the mackerel into large chunks and place all the ingredients (using just half of the lemon juice to start with) into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Try and keep some of the texture rather than reducing it to a homogenous paste.
  2. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary – you may need more lemon.
  3. Scrape into a container and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Then, turn on the grill/broiler.
  5. Cover the slices of baguettine with the pâté, top with a little grated cheddar and place on a baking sheet. Grill/broil until bubbly and browned.

The Smoked Mackerel Pâté also very nice cold topped with a slice of olive, and as a casual starter with a baguette.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sensational Meatballs with Lentils

Sensational Meatballs with LentilsI almost didn’t post this recipe, hence the lack of photos, in progress or otherwise! I’ve been making these Sensational Meatballs and Lentils for about 8 years (since 2006 according to my notes) and it was Jake who suggested that I share the recipe here on the blog when I made it the other day. It came about the usual way – picking up a few bits on the way home from work and seeing what was in the cupboards to supplement the ingredients – a bit like Ready Steady Cook! The resultant deeply flavoured, lemony Meatballs and Lentils were so delicious that I wrote up the recipe in my notebook.

This is one of those dishes that wraps you up in a warm blanket and gives you a hug; so comforting on these dark, chilly evenings. The seasonings of smoked paprika, rosemary and cumin seeds give the dish so much depth and flavour and the lemon juice and zest perk it all up.  It’s very quick to prepare, especially if you buy pre-made (raw) meatballs which can be a godsend if you are strapped for time.  Red lentils don’t require pre-soaking and cook very quickly, usually between 15 – 20 minutes and the lemon juice is the perfect complement to them. Stirring in spinach or chard leaves at the end gives it a vegetal boost with the added bonus of not having to prepare a separate side dish. You could also use frozen spinach. adding it a few minutes earlier so that it has a chance to thaw in the pot. Don’t add salt until the end otherwise the lentils stay hard.  This is quick, one pot cooking at it’s best.

Sensational Meatballs with LentilsYou start by rolling the meatballs, then sauté the onions, then the meatballs with the seasonings; stir in the stock, lentils, lemon juice and tomatoes and let the whole lot simmer away while you get the rice on and prepare the spinach which gets stirred in a couple of minutes before the end. That’s it!! I urge you to give the Meatballs and Lentils  a try – the dish is absolutely sensational!

I’m taking these to share with all the Fiesta Friday #46  revellers, so generously hosted by Angie at the Novice Gardener. Today our co hosts are  Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. – do drop by and say hello to them!

Sensational Meatballs with Lentils

  • Servings: 4 generous portions
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g lean mince beef
  • 1 tsp of salt and a good grinding of the pepper mill
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • A good splash of Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp whole, dry roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 200g dry red split lentils
  • 1 rounded tsp of chicken stock powder stirred into 500 ml of hot water/500ml homemade stock
  • 1 tin of tomatoes or 3-4 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 couple of bay leaves
  • 300 – 400 g fresh spinach or chard

To serve

  • Cooked rice
  • Dollop of greek yoghurt or tzatziki

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Season the minced beef with salt and pepper, stir in parsley and with a light hand, mix well to combine. Wet your hands and roll into walnut sized balls and set aside. If you are in a hurry you can substitute ready made (raw) meatballs but get the premium ones as the cheaper ones have more fat and sometimes, gristle.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions until soft and a little coloured.
  3. Stir in the rosemary, smoked paprika, garlic and lemon zest, then add the meatballs and sauté until lightly brown on all sides – about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, the lentils, the stock, the tomatoes (break up the tomatoes if you are using whole tinned ones) and bay leaves. Let this simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it and add a little more water if necessary. It shouldn’t be too thick.
  5. While it’s simmering away, wash the spinach/chard and remove the central rib if thick and fibrous. Save them in the freezer, for the stock pot. Chop the leaves and set aside. Get the rice on.
  6. After 20 minutes, check that the lentils are cooked through and also check the seasoning. Adjust to taste – this is the time to add salt; I also like to add more cumin seeds.
  7. Stir in the spinach/chard leaves and cover the pot to allow the leaves to wilt in the heat.
  8. Serve hot with rice an a dollop of greek yoghurt or tzatziki.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In My Kitchen – December 2014

I was MIA from this series last month, but it’s been a busy couple of months in my kitchen – come and take a look..

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Blue and White serving dishes

In my kitchen, I have scored some bargains! I love scouring charity and thrift shops for tableware – most of the time there is nothing but sometimes, there be gold… The first two dishes in the top row,  I spotted locally for a grand sum of £4 and the last one I found on eBay – starting price £1.99 and no one else bid!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Silver servers

Another eBay find – I was looking for salad servers and came across these, being sold as a pair of salad servers. Obviously they aren’t – I think that they are most probably cake or pie servers – what do you think? Both are silver plate from the 1920’s, the ivory handle is bone and the brown handle is bakelite. Again, no-one bid for them so I got the pair for the starting price of £3.99! I just love the detail on them.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Elaine of foodbod’s spice blends

In my kitchen, I’ve had some incredibly generous gifts from my fellow bloggers. Elaine of foodbod sent  me a a selection of her homemade spice blends. I recently used her foodbod #1 blend in scrambled eggs, which turned out quite delicious!

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Tina of Madamoiselle Gourmande’s cutlery wrap

Then, Tina of Mademoiselle Gourmande sent me the most stylish cutlery wrap (for picnics, said her note!) which she made herself. Isn’t it lovely? What a thoughtful and clever thing to make and send me – I am very touched.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableI’ve been sent some wonderful Tetley’s Green Tea to try out – I had no idea how involved the whole process of tea blending is. I’ve written a post about it with information that is sure to surprise you! These green teas are just lovely – for me, the trick is not to let the teabags steep for too long otherwise the resultant tea is just too bitter. The fruity Peach and Apricot Green Tea is also fantastic for steeping dried fruit for bakes and the Mint is very refreshing.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar and Wookey Hole Goats Cheese

Elaine and I went to the BBC Good Food Show as guests of Barber’s 1833, England’s oldest cheesemaker who use live cultures to make their cheeses.  I’ve written a post about their cheese making process which is steeped in history and tradition; their fabulous cheese which can be bought in Australia as well as the States and really shouldn’t be missed if you get the opportunity to get your hands on some.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Holy Lama Spice Drops

While we were at the show, I picked up a few things – of course! These Spice Drops were actually samples from the press room (we had press passes – swanky or what?). The Mulled Wine is very nice in a cuppa and I am looking forward to using the cardamom in baking and in rice too.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Lime Leaves

I bought a bag full of lime leaves – the dried ones – which are just so lovely in any Thai style dish, especially anything with coconut or shellfish in it. I pull out the central rib or stem and finely slice the leaves before stirring them in to the sauce to simmer and impart that gorgeous perfume.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dakos from the Olive Branch

I also stopped by the Olive Branch stand to say hello and got my hands on a bag of Dakos – these are the hard rye biscuits that Ottolenghi loves and uses in his salads.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Win a copy of Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Speaking of Ottolenghi, I’ve been sent a copy of his eagerly awaited and much coveted book, Plenty More for one of my readers to win. It is full of the most wonderful recipes; inventive and so full of flavour that you don’t even realise that they’re vegetarian.  The competition ends on Tuesday Dec 09  – take a look at the post for more details on how to enter the draw.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dried Limes

One of the ingredients Ottolenghi uses is dried limes – you cook them whole in sauces where they lend and musky deep lime flavour to the dish. I found a bagful in my local Mediterranean shop and I just wish you could smell them – absolutely gorgeous. I can see how Jo Malone was inspired to come up with the fragrance for her iconic Lime Basil and Mandarin Cologne, to which I am addicted!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Vietnamese Cinnamon

In my kitchen and very appropriate for this time of year, I have a large bottle of Cinnamon – and this is one of my favourites. It just has such a lovely flavour. I stock up on it whenever I see it at TK Maxx as I do get through quite a bit with all the baking I do.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableIn my healing kitchen…..I may have arthritis in my ankle – I will find out next week what the results of all the tests and scans are but in the meantime, I have taken matters into my own hands to effect a cure. Years ago, I was told that drinking a mug of hot water into which had been stirred a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) and a little honey was a fantastic remedy for arthritis. In those days, my finger joints used to get achy especially if the weather was changing. I started to drink a mug of this every morning and I have never suffered from achy fingers since. Even Ralph Fiennes, the intrepid explorer, champions this drink. I did stop drinking this at some point but the minute I heard that my foot may be affected, I hunted down a bottle of organic ACV and have started to drink this again.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

In Wholefoods the other day, they had some fresh turmeric root in which I bought. This is meant to be an anti-inflammatory and since my ankle has been swelling up as well as aching I’ve been making Turmeric Tea which consists of 1 tsp of grated turmeric root and 1 tsp of grated ginger simmered in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strained into a cup with a little honey and a splash of ACV, it is actually really delicious! And it has done an incredible job in keeping the swelling down. My fingernails look like I smoke 4 packs a day – grating turmeric will do that but it is well worth it!

A little round up of some of the food I’ve made, remembered to snap but haven’t blogged….I made some delicious spicy Butter Beans – recipe on Instagram if you are interested!  I bought a happy chicken from our local Streatham Farmer’s Market and we had it simply, stuffed with thyme and lemon and roasted surrounded by potatoes and garlic – a recipe of sorts is on Instagram – good ingredients just need to be cooked simply to let their flavours shine. These mussels are a bit of a favourite – cook the spaghetti for a couple of minutes less than you would normally and let it finish cooking in the mussel juices. I used some Elaine’s  Creole blend to spice it up and they were delicious! I made a dairy and egg free chocolate cake but didn’t like the texture enough to blog about it – this one needs some tinkering but doesn’t it look gorgeous?! A lovely way to enjoy tomatoes at this time of year, is to slow roast them so that their tomato flavour intensifies. I made a second batch the other day for sandwiches and salads – they are gorgeous in a toasted cheese too!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour!

Have a wonderful December, everyone!